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Biophilia Educational Project

  • Published on July 8, 2015
The Biophilia Educational Project is a program developed in Iceland, which uses music and creativity to spark children's interest in sciences and nature. The program includes teaching apps, games, animations, music and academic essays on science and nature. Creativity is used as a teaching and research tool, where music, technology and natural sciences are linked together cross-sectorally in a new, innovative way. The concept builds on dynamic collaboration of academics, scientists, artists, teachers and students at all academic levels. It creates a platform for dialogue and debate, which encourages both personal and social development, thereby contributing to a sustainable society where new approaches are actively explored. The project was developed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland. It was launched as part of Iceland´s 2014 presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers and is piloted in selected schools in the Nordic countries.
The Biophilia Educational Project aims to inspire children to explore their own creativity, while learning about music, nature and science through new technologies, using interactive and cross-sectoral teaching methods. It creates a platform for dialogue and debate, which encourages both personal and social development. One of the goals is to contribute to a sustainable society where new approaches and solutions to problems are actively explored. Biophilia touches upon many of the most important issues related to creating a sustainable future, i.e. education, creativity, innovation and cross-disciplinary thinking. The aim is to engage children in learning how to make better use of these resources and create value in new ways. The project targets children from ages 10 to 12 years, but can be applied to younger or older children as well. The Nordic Biophilia project's objectives are: • To promote innovation in schools through the development of educational methods which combine natural sciences, creativity, and technology • To break up traditional teaching practices through a cross-disciplinary approach, across all ages, subjects, and disciplines • To set up a Nordic collaborative network that will share experiences and ideas and further develop the project based on common Nordic values • To encourage young people's interest in creativity, natural sciences and technology, and thus progressively increase the competitiveness of the Nordic countries The project is based on Björk's Biophilia app suite of music and interactive, educational artefacts. Each song from the album has a separate science theme and a musicological theme to go with it. The music teachers and natural science teachers will ideally work together and give short introductions to the science and musicology. The children then use the apps to familiarize themselves with the themes in question and learn through hands-on participation, composition and collaboration. Each app has its own theme, in connection with a corresponding song and combines a natural element with a musicological feature. The content in each feature includes: • an interactive game based on the song's scientific and musicological subject matter • a musical animation of the song • an animated score • lyrics • an academic essay focused on a different science topic/theme For instance, in the song Mutual Core, tectonic plates are the science topic and chords are the main musical element. The aim of using the apps is to spark interest and make science and music more accessible. Success Factors Through the Biophilia Educational Project the Nordic countries are working together to create new teaching methods by combining the use of creativity and technology. Emphasis is put on each country developing the teaching guidelines according to each local situation and resources at hand. The Nordic network will gather the different ideas and methods and share them with all interested parties. The aim is to create a pan-Nordic collaborative teaching initiative, where innovation and education meet. Novelty The Biophilia Educational Project is a ground-breaking project, which was piloted in the city of Reykjavik in Iceland, and is piloted in selected schools in the Nordic countries during 2015-2016. The project presents an example of dynamic collaboration between different areas in society, such as schools, cultural institutions as well as science and research institutes. Biophilia was selected as the educational and cultural flagship project for Iceland's presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2014 and is part of the NordBio initiative, where Nordic experts will pool their efforts in working on projects promoting sustainable utilisation of the living natural resources. The focus is on the interests of both society at large and the environment per se, and on facilitating the restructuring of a competitive economy as well as new methods in youth education. Sustainability Impacts Workshops for local children featured on the original Biophilia tour. Primary schools in Reykjavík have participated in experimental teaching using Biophilia with great success. The Biophilia Educational Project has the potential to bring arts experience to children who might otherwise not have access to it. The Biophilia Educational Project is implemented and further developed in Nordic schools during 2014-2016, as part of the Nordic Council of Ministers' NordBio initiative. During this time, the Biophilia app suite will be a central element in workshops and study activities combining science, creativity and technology. A formal evaluation of the program will be conducted in 2016. Contact person for more information: Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, Iceland: Arnfríður Sólrún Valdimarsdóttir, project manager Auður Rán Þorgeirsdóttir, project manager

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